Matt Hampson, 26, was an aspiring rugby player for the England under-21s team until an accident on the pitch left him paralysed from the neck down. FV1’s Cara Priestley asked him how he manages to stay so positive
Cara: Matt, I was just wondering if you could explain for our readers, what happened during the accident that paralysed you?
Matt: It happened when I was training for the England Under 21s. It was a few days before we were due to play Scotland and we were doing a hard session - a really, really tough session. When we moved on to live scrummaging, I hit the scrum, the scrum collapsed and then I took the full weight of both packs on my neck. My neck dislocated and I was left paralysed from the neck down and had to be resuscitated on the training field.
Cara: How did it feel to suddenly lose the ability to move?
Matt: It was pretty life-changing. Obviously I was a professional sportsman so I was used to training and being active. To go from that to not being able to move any part of my body was pretty tough and pretty daunting.
Cara: Did you find that people treated you differently?
Matt: Yeah, a lot of people who were quite close to me completely changed the way that they looked at me. I don’t think they could deal with it. But then I also had some people who came out of the woodwork and are actually really close friends of mine now.
Cara: Tell me about the charity you founded. What does it do?
Matt: The strap line is ‘Inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport’. It’s not just giving someone some money and saying: ‘Look there you go, you’ll be alright,’ it’s me offering my support and experiences and using what I’ve been through to actually help young people, try to inspire them and help them move on
Cara: Would you say it’s had a positive effect on your life too?
Matt: Absolutely! Yeah, completely! It’s the best thing in the world for me personally - to give something back to other people and not feel that burden of people doing great things for me. I like that I can support other people in a similar situation who probably aren’t as fortunate as me to have such a fantastic network of people around me.
Cara: And you’ve written a book, Engaged. Tell me about it.
Matt: Yes, it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster really. One minute you might be thinking it’s really sad and the next second you’ll be laughing - well I hope you’ll be laughing! I have a great life now. I’m very busy and very involved with this foundation, which is absolutely amazing, and I kind of just think if you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at
Cara: What have you learnt from your experiences that you could pass on to FV1 readers
Matt: I’ve learnt that life is kind of what you make it. If you’re positive then people are more willing to help you and support you, but if you have a doom and gloom approach to life then people don’t look at you so favourably. So I think the most important thing is to try to be positive and to smile at the world